New Hampshire Missing Places: Daniel Webster Airways, Merrimack

Photo of Mattie (Kilborn) Webster, the compiler of Merrimack’s Bicentennial history, with her granddaughters, Janice and Kathleen. (One being the blog editor) from the 1960s. Colorized.

During the Town of Merrimack’s Bicentennial Celebration, my grandmother, Mattie (Kilborn) Webster helped to research, write, and also to compile the stories of others, for the historical presentations on 30 June 1946.   She kept a notebook, and in cursive handwriting collected a particular story that was written by Arnold Sidney Butler, one of New Hampshire’s pioneer aviators. The topic was Daniel Webster Airways.

Butler ran that business from about 1946 into the 1950s. He moved to Florida where he started another business, and Merrimack’s only airport was sold to Sanders Associates, Inc, New Hampshire’s largest electronics industry in the 1970s. Today it is BAE Systems.

A rare photograph of Daniel Webster Airways. The facilities included a lunchroom. [Merrimack Historic Commission publication.

Arnold Butler’s description of Daniel Webster Airways history follows.
Daniel Webster Airways was incorporated in the beginning of 1946 and fulfills a long conceived plan of its President, Arnold Butler, and promoter, John Kunst. Mr. Butler was manager of Grenier Field before it was taken over by the Government and during the War successfully operated the Bolton Airport; he had many years of experience in flying, teaching, and managing. Mr. Kunst is an experienced airplane flier and owner, and Treasurer and enthusiastic backer of Daniel Webster Airway Inc.

The Merrimack airport is ideally located adjacent to the main traffic artery of the State on part of the Blanchard Farm which the oldest inhabitants will remember as a rye field and their fathers would remember as the old rifle range. Statistics show that 1/4 of the population of New Hampshire is located within a fifteen-mile radius of the field and adjacent intervales make it an ideal spot for student training.  When completed the field will have three landing strips with 6700 feet of usable terrain, so that it can accommodate planes under any condition, and will be the largest privately-owned airport in the State.

August 1947 Merrimack Airways advertisement in the Nashua Telegraph newspaper.

A restaurant will be opened here shortly, and when war-time restrictions are removed, it is planned to open a vacation and recreation center with diverse interests.  Daniel Webster Airways will embrace all branches of flying service, with planes available for civilian instruction, pleasure flying, and charter service; there will be a special school to train veterans under the G.I. bill of rights, private and public hangars, a sales branch, and all repair facilities.

We would especially like the people of Merrimack to feel that Daniel Webster Airways Inc is their airport, and their industry and that it stands ready to help in any emergency and to render public service in any necessity. May we offer our service congratulations to the town on its glorious anniversary: Two hundred years ago the river brought prosperity to its few doors, as it gives the highway and the railroad helped its development and we sincerely hope the “Airways” will contribute to its prosperous future.  [note: end of town centennial presentation].

Daniel Webster Airways was busier than you’d think. The Nashua Telegraph newspaper of  July 24, 1948 page 1 reported: “200 PLANES TO SWOOP DOWN ON CITY SUNDAY. “Largest assemblage of civilian airplanes in the history of this area will be at the Daniel Webster airport Sunday morning when some 200 from Massachusetts and Rhode Island, piloted mostly by their owners, will stop here for breakfast and a short rest period. The announcement was made by Arnold Butler, general manager who said the privately-owned planes would be arriving here between the hours of seven and nine, weather permitting. After breakfast at the Airport Diner and the servicing of engines and general maintenance to their planes, the flyers will take off for their home bases. Mr. Butler said the DW airport will be able to accommodate the large group.

Caveat:  Arnold S. Butler was not the first to fly airplane banner advertising.
Arnold S. Butler was not only one of the founders of Daniel Webster Airways, but also a pioneer aviator and trend-setter as you will discover.   In January 1939 (per the Manchester Airport History), “Carl Park and Arnold Butler launch Granite State Airways out of Manchester, offering flying lessons and other aviation services.” [Editor’s note: they had two hangars and an administration building]. Tom Hildreth’s web site about Grenier field states: “A Civilian Pilot Training program was begun in 1939 under the auspices of the Civil Aeronautics Administration. This led to a tremendous increase in flying activity at Smith Field. This program was run by Granite State Airways, and more than 100 pilots were turned out during 1939 and 1940.” When WW2 began, Butler’s Manchester facilities were taken over by the U.S. Government for military use.

In 1946 Arnold Butler pairs up with John Kuntz [see story above] to create Daniel Webster Airways.  At about this same time, according to his son Jim Butler’s obituary, “Arnold Butler, a former airport operator in Manchester, N.H., first started in aerial advertising in 1946 and later moved the family business to North Perry Airport in Pembroke Pines Florida in 1953.”  There he was the owner of several companies including Aerial Sign Co. [1965] whose major function was to sell sky advertising, using airplanes to tow large message banners.  The timing of these references all point to his days at Daniel Webster Airways in Merrimack as the location of his early sky sign towing business.  Arnold Butler’s Florida business grew into possibly the largest such company in the United States.

The Hiller Aviation Museum of San Carlos, California states: “In the years leading up to World War II, a different form of advertising took flight. Arnold Butler used a small fleet of Piper J3 Cubs to tow large banners bearing messages from his home field in New England. Banner towing combined the large message size and message persistence of an airship with the ease of operation of an airplane. Butler developed many specialized tools to facilitate banner tow operations, and following the war relocated to Florida to pursue aerial advertising along Florida’s long, straight beaches.” [Circle-A Aviation].

Arnold S. Butler probably was the first in New England to devise and promote this form of airplane banner advertising, however, I do NOT believe he was the first in the United States to do so.  Early patents for airplane banners seem to indicate that as early as 1931, more than a decade before Arnold Butler, someone was already performing this type of advertising.   The earliest sign towing patent went to John Picco of New York on 7 Nov 1931.  The invention relates to a sign towed by an aeroplane. It is in the form of a streamer

Kellett Autogiro Corp in 1932 patented an aerial banner, as did William A. Bohannon in 1933 and 1933, following in 1934 by Henry H. Richardson with an apparatus for displaying aerial signs. In 1935 book author Ethel P.S. Hoyt patented an interesting display device. “Mobile visual advertising by aeroplanes, airships, balloons, or kites the advertising matter being towed by the aircraft illuminated.”

There are also several newspaper mentions, notably: The Standard-Speaker newspaper (Hazleton, PA) of 29 Aug 1935, page 7, noted: “Advertisement for Sign towing and business trips. Reifenberg Airport, Willis Reifenberg. Mgr.  [Willis Reifenberg was the owner of Reifenberg Aviation in St. Johns, Luzerne Co. PA]   And the Monrovia News-Post newspaper (Monrovia, California) of 23 Jan 1941 page 7 reported on novice pilot, Bob Barlow, who was flying signs over the Santa Anita race track.

All of these patents and newspaper stories happened several years before Arnold Butler started his airplane banner towing business.  These facts are not stated to detract from Arnold Butler’s accomplishments, but rather to focus on the real history behind that form of business.


Lieut John Butler, was in Framingham MA as early as 1723 [proposed to covenant in the Framingham Church 29 Jan 1723-4,].  He was born as early as 1700. He was in the French and Indian war, and went to Louisburg in Capt. Ephraim Baker’s company in 1745 and died in the service. His will was proved 20 April 1747. He married 1st) Elizabeth, dau of John How. She died 27 April 1740. He married 2d) 19 March 1741-42 Joanna (Buckminster) Eames, widow of John Eames. Children born at Hopkinton, others at Framingham.  [from New England Families, Genealogical and Memorial, compiled by William Richard Cutter, Vol II, page 730]
Children of John 7& Elizabeth (How) Butler:
1. Elizabeth Butler, baptized 8 May 1727 Hopkinton MA
2. John Butler, b 28 March 1729 Hopkinton MA
3. +Phineas Baker,
4. Joseph Baker, b. 3 June 1732 Framingham MA
5. William Baker, b 18 Apr 1738 Framingham MA; bap 23 Apr 1738 Hopkinton MA
6. John Wood Butler, b 27 April 1740 Framingham MA; bap 4 May 1740 Hopkinton MA

———-Next Generation———-

Phineas/Phinehas Butler, son of John Butler, was born 3 June 1732 at Framingham MA He lived near Sudbury and was credited to that town during the American Revolution. He served as a corporal for several years in more than one battalion. [see long list of service here].  He removed to Thomaston Maine about 1785. He m 29 Apr 1754 to Bathsheba Graves, daughter of Joseph Graves.
Children of Phineas & Bathsheba (Graves) Butler:
1. John Butler b 10 Feb 1736, settled in Union Maine
2. +Phineas/Phinehas,  b. 8 April 1738 Framingham MA
3. Anna Butler, married John Tyngs
4. Dr. Joseph Butler, b April 1764; moved to Union Maine, and from there to Pennsylvania with his son, Martin.

———-Next Generation———-

Phineas/Phinehas Butler, son of Phineas, was born 8 April 1738 in Framingham MA. He was a soldier in the American Revolution. He served in Capt. King’s Company, Col. Marshall’s regiment, enlisted for three years. His name is on the roll in 1776, and in 1780 and he was a corporal of the major’s company, Col. Marshall’s regiment in 1780. He was then of “Georges” (St. George near THomaston, Maine). [SEE MORE DETAILS of that service here]
He resided at South Thomaston and died there 25 Sep 1852, aged 94 years. He married Melia Robbins of Thomaston in 1781.
Children of Phineas & Melia (Robbins) Butler:
1. +William Butler, b 11 Apr 1782 Rockland Maine; m1) Judith Loring; m2) Jane Singer
2. Sarah Butler b 20 Apr 1784, d. 26 Nov 1792
3. Shepard Butler b 21 March 1786, d. 17 Dec 1795
4. Phineas b 18 Apr 1788, d 12 Sep 1855. He m1) Catherine Ulmer; m2) Hannah Demerritt; m3) Silence Jameson
5. Melia Butler, b 23 Feb 1790, d. 9 Sep 1792.
6. George Butler, b 27 Aug 1792 at THomaston Maine. Soldier in War of 1812. He m. Mima Robbins of Union Maine.
7. Levi Butler, b 22 Jan 1795; m1) Lucy Tolman; m2) Mary Walker
8. Melia Buter, b. 18 Oct 1797; m. Deacon Samuel Dean, lived THomaston Maine
9. Joanna C. Butler b 20 Oct 1800; m. Israel Dean.
10 Walter Butler b 22 Nov 1802; m. Joanna Packard

———-Next Generation———-

William Butler, son of Phineas, was b. 11 April 1782 Rockland Maine. He m1st) published 22 Nov 1804 to Judith Loring. She d. 7 Feb 1838. He m2d) 3 Aug 1838 to Jane Singer. He was a farmer in Rockland Maine.
Children of William & Judith (Loring) Butler:
1. Shepard R. Butler, b Oct 1805, d. 1 Jan 1806
2. Julia Butler, b 28 Feb 1807; m. James Dean, resided South Thomaston Maine
3. Maria Butler, b 6 March 1809. She m1) Capt. Job Perry; m2d) Jesse K. Dean; resided South Thomaston Maine
4. Melia R. Butler, b. 25 April 1811; m1) Capt. Henry H. Fales; m2d) Elkanah S. SMith; resided N. Billerica.
5. +Orris R. Butler, b 15 June 1813; 15 Nov 1835 to m. Mary Ann Ingraham; resided Rockland Maine a farmer.
6. Margaret B. Butler, b 28 June 1815; m. Mark Perry; Resided Rockland Maine.
7. William Butler, b 30 July 1817; m. 8 Nov 1843 to Eliza P. Butler; resided Rockland, Maine, a farmer.
8. Sophia Butler, b. 27 Dec 1819; m 28 Aug 1843 Hiram Worcester., res. S. Thomaston Maine.
9. Bradford B. Butler, b 18 Apr 1822; m. Helen M. Stevens; res. Rockland Maine, a farmer.

———-Next Generation———-

Orris/Oris Robbins Butler, son of William & Judith (Lorgin) Butler, b 15 June 1813 Rockland, Maine, d 24 Dec 1902 South Thomaston, Knox, Maine. He married Mary Ann Ingraham, b 12 Apr 1817 Maine, d. 1 April 1892.   Buried Ingraham Cemetery, Owls Head, Maine
See History of Thomaston, Rockland and South Thomaston Maine with Family Genealogies, Vol 2, by Cyrus Eaton
1860 US Census > Maine > Knox > Rockland
Orris R Butler 47
Mary Ann Butler 43
Orris E Butler 23
Lillias A Butler 20
Susan A Butler 18
Leland M Butler 14
Mary E S Butler 5
Children of Orris R. & Mary A. (Ingraham) Butler:
1. Orris R. Butler, b 11 Apr 1837
2. Lillias A. Butler b 1 Aug 1839; m. James T. Tolman; resided Rockland ME
3. Susan A. Butler b 19 Dec 1841
4. +Leland M. Butler, b abt 1846
5. Preston E. W. Butler, b March 1851, d. 3 Apr 1853
6. Frederic A. Butler b Dec 1854, d. 19 Sep 1855
7. Mary E. S. Butler, b ab 1855

———-Next Generation———-

Leland Mortimer Butler son of Orris & Mary (Ingraham) Butler was b. 1845 Rockland Maine, died 1933. He married Irene M. Copeland.  She was born i24 July 1849 in Warren Maine, daughter of Charles & Sarah (Willard) Copeland..  They are buried in Leonard Cemetery, Warren, Knox Maine.
1900 US Census > Maine > Knox > Warren
Leland M Butler 56
Irene M Butler 30
Rose L Butler 28
Fred M Butler 22
Nealie F Butler 17
Charles C Butler 15
Leland K Butler 9
Children of Leland M. & Irene M. (Copeland) Butler:
1. Rose L. Butler, born Jan 1872 in Maine. She m1) 3 Oct 1900 in Warren Maine to Gilford S. Newcomb; m2d) 30 Aug 1918 in Farmington NH to Dyson Crowther.
2. Fred M. Butler, born Dec 1877 Maine. He had a dairy farm in Knox Maine. He m. 28 May 1921 in Warren ME to Carrie A. Wyllie. Had children
3. Nealie Florence Butler, b abt 1883 So. Thomaston Maine; m. 24 May 1911 in Warren, Knox, Maine to Loring C. Packard.
4. Charles Cleveland Butler, b April 1885 Maine; m. 29 June 1906 in Farmington NH to Mary E. Nutter, dau of Frank O. & Sarah (Pike) Nutter
5. +Leland K. Butler, b 6 Sep 1890 So. Thomaston Maine.

———-Next Generation———-

Leland Kallack/Kolbach Butler son of Leland & Irene (Copeland) Butler was b 6 Sep 1890 So. Thomaston Maine.  He died 6 April 1975 in Pinellas FL. He married 23 Dec 1911 in Derby, Orleans VT to Leila Frances Young.  In 1930 Renting a house at 89 Taylor Street in Manchester, Salesman Machinery; at the time of his marriage, machinist
1930 US Census > NH > Hillsborough > Manchester
Leland K Butler 39
Leila F Butler 36
Irene F Butler 17
Arnold S Butler 16
Phillis L Butler 15
Nathalie L Butler 13
Althea M Butler 10
Children of Leland K. & Leila Frances (Young) Butler
Children of Leland K. & Leila Frances (Young) Butler
1. Irene F Butler, b abt 1913 Farmington NH; m. 1 Apr 1934 in Manchester NH to Leon A. Osborne
2. +Arnold Sidney Butler, b 8 Oct 1914 Springvale Maine [see later]
3. Phillis Lee Butler, b 17 Nov 1915 Sanford, York, Maine; she m. 31 July 1938 in Manchester NH to Oscar H. Palmer, son of Porter A. & Marie (St. Cyr) Palmer. They lived in Hayward Street in Manchester NH.
4. Nathalie Luella Butler, b abt 1917; m. 18 July 1941 to Raymond Stanley Snell, son of Henry & Maude E. (Smart) Snell. They had 3 daughters.
5. Althea Marie Butler, b 17 Sep 1919 in Dover NH; m. 7 Sep 1940 in Manchester NH to Percy Burdett Lister. She died 25 Feb 2005 in Concord NH and is buried at Blossom Hill Cemetery

———-Next Generation———-

Arnold Sidney Butler,  son of Leland K. & Leila F. (Young) Butler, was born 8 Oct 1914 Springvale Maine and died 2 May 2002. They lived at 97 Candia Road Manchester NH
In 1940 living there with parents, a flight instructor for the Manchester(NH) Airport – Granite State Airways.  In 1947 living at 127 Tarrytown Road Manchester NH. He m. 12 Feb 1941 in Manchester NH to Helena Mary Lyons, daughter of Thomas & Helena (Ryan) Lyons.  He m2d) Bea Burton. Buried at Fred Hunter’s Hollywood Memorial GardensTHIS STORY IS ABOVE HIM, SEE ABOVE.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale FL 5 May 2002 page 43
Butler, Arnold S., 87 of Hollywood passed away Thursday, May 2. An Aviation Pioneer and Legend. He is survived by his loving wife, Bernadette “Bea; children Sylvia (Phil) McLeroy, Jim Butler, Suzanna (Barry) Broderson, John (Marsha) Butler, Diane Blickman, Thomas Butler; stepchildren Brian (Gayle) Burton, Ariella (Mike) Bowen; 1 brother, 3 sisters, 19 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. Predeceased by his first wife Helena.
Children of Arnold S. & Helena (Lyons) Butler:
1. Sylvia Butler, who m. Phil McLeroy
2. James “Jim” Butler, d. 2015
3. Suzanna Butler, who m. Barry Broderson
4. John Butler, who m. Marsha –.
5. Diane Butler who m. — Blickman
6. Thomas Butler


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3 Responses to New Hampshire Missing Places: Daniel Webster Airways, Merrimack

  1. mary beth says:

    Very cool. Are you related to Daniel Webster?

    • Janice Brown says:

      Mary Beth, I am related to Daniel Webster. NOT a descendant, and not related as far as I know through his Webster surname. I am related to him through his mother’s EASTMAN line. Daniel Webster is my 4th cousin, 5x removed. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. Pingback: Collected Stories of Merrimack New Hampshire | Cow Hampshire

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